Worship at Home for Sunday, November 6

Dear Friends,

Don’t forget to turn back your clocks this Sunday!

Welcome to the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost.  Our theme for worship for the next few weeks will be “Keep Watch”.  The reading from the minor prophet Haggai invites us to “Take Courage” in our present moment because God is with us.
If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

  • Memory Care Event at the Owensville Library on Thursday, November 17 at 6pm.
  • The Turkey Supper will be on Saturday, November 19. We will need help serving, in the kitchen, baking pies and more. There will be a Quilts for sale, Silent Auction and Country Store.
  • Totenfest will be on Sunday, November 20.
  • Congregational Budget Meeting after worship on Sunday, November 20
  • The Advent Tea will be on Saturday, December 3. Reservations for seating at 11 am and 2pm are being taken, 437-2779.
  • The Cantata will be on Sunday, December 4 at 3pm.
  • Cookie Sale Date: Dec 10th from 9 to 1 or when we run out. Selling by the pound. Choose your own cookies and pack your own box. Place: St Peters downstairs
  • Bakers: please bake 3 different kinds. 3 dozen of each kind. Need cookies put down in the kitchen by noon on Friday December 9th Thanks to all the bakers and candy makers!

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons:
Haggai 1:15b-2:9, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, Luke 20:27-38

Sermon: Take Courage

I had a dream the other night. I was waiting in the altar room of a church while putting on my robe and adjusting a red stole. I heard the strains of “How Great Thou Art” playing as I entered the chancel area to preach. The back doors of the church were open revealing a beautiful sunrise. But the congregation was absent. I heard noise from another room. Instead of worshiping in the present, the congregation was gathered around a television screen watching videos of moments from days gone by in the life of the church. I was stunned, here God was offering a beautiful sunrise and new opportunities, but the people preferred to be in a closed room with their highlight reel of what was.

I wonder if the prophet Haggai felt as I do. God was offering so many new ways to be faithful, but the people were stuck in imaginations of a glorious past. The people were frozen in time and unable to rebuild and worship God in the present.

The people of Jerusalem had been through great trauma. The devastation was enormous. 66 years ago, the armies of Babylon had decimated the city. When the Babylonians conquered a city, they would destroy everything. Houses of important people were reduced to rubble. City centers destroyed. Places of worship dismantled with rigorous disrepect. Objects of value looted. Nothing of value remained.

The rulers of the city both religious and political would be summarily executed or sent into exile. The commoners would be conscripted into service in exile or scattered to make their way amidst the rubble of their former homes. This happed to the people of Jerusalem. Everything was lost. Psalms of lament were sung.

Hope slowly came to the people when King Cyrus of the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonians. Cyrus liked to think of himself as a liberator and encouraged the people he conquered to worship in their own way. He even authorized the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and sent Ezra with a group of exiles to start the building process.:

 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’”
(2 Chronicles 36:23, NIV)

But there has been a halt in the process of rebuilding the temple between the kingships of Cyrus and Darius. This is where the book of Haggai begins. Haggai in chapter one explains to the people they were experiencing a time of hardship and drought, because they built homes for themselves and neglected God’s temple. The people listened to Haggai and chose to do the hard work of rebuilding the temple. The problem was that they were discouraged by the task ahead of them.

We can certainly sympathize with their discouragement. Nothing remained of the former temple’s greatness. Nature had taken back large parts of the city including the temple. Those who remembered the former temple’s glory from their childhood lamented that what they would be building would be nowhere near as great as what was.

God through Haggai tells the people to “take courage”. Take courage because God is with them. Take courage because God will fulfill God’s promises. Take courage because you are not alone. Take courage because God will fill this house with splendor.

Take courage! How often do we feel disheartened by the rubble in our own lives. When what we have planned and worked for has been decimated by circumstances beyond our control. When our culture and community have shifted in ways that are unrecognizable. Take courage when we are tempted to sit in closed rooms watching highlight reels of the past. Take courage…don’t lose heart.

The present may not be what was. But honestly when was what was ever as good as the rosy colored past of our imaginations. Take courage because God who loves us is in our present. Take courage because God who cares for us will be in our future. The church of the present and the future may not be what we dreamed it would be, but it is here, and it is God’s. Take courage!

References:
Expositor's Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition): Old Testament, Copyright 2004.
Couey, J. Blake. “Haggai.” Gale A. Yee, Ed. Fortress Commentary on the Bible: Two Volume Set. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014.
Kalluveettil, Paul. “Haggai.” Daniel Patte, General Ed. Global Bible Commentary. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004.

Prayer: God, help me to take courage and see You at work in this moment and this present time. Help us all to take courage. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Dave, David, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Jaqueline, Friends of Shelby, Bobby, Kevin, Jim, Darryl (doing better!), Marilee, Beverly, Jim, Jenny, Dixon’s daughter, Barbara, Melvin, Mitchell, Mahala, Maybelle and Mary, La Rae, , Bud, Bob, Ruth, Tyra, Ruby and for peace in troubled and war-torn places. Those who have been impacted by the recent hurricanes.

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